Thursday, December 31, 2015


Don't pick up, go to meetings, and ask for help.
            For the fourth week in a row, the views of Life Sucks Better Clean from Russia top the numbers from everywhere else, including the United States. Again this makes me wonder how the Google translation gadget works. When I use the translation device on Facebook to understand what my Spanish-speaking friends are saying (and I took Spanish for four years) frequently the result is the kind of gibberish that would cause me to call the paramedics had I heard something similar from an English-speaking friend.
            Please let me know if you have used the translation gadget at the top of the page, and if so, does it work well?
            Which brings me to slang, slogans, and meaning. If you attend English-speaking NA meetings, or read this blog, you will have heard the expression "Don't pick up (or use), go to meetings, and ask for help." From some comments I've gotten, this doesn't make it through the translator very well.
            Don't pick up or use a mood altering drug, which includes, of course, alcohol. For me it also includes not engaging in any of my other addictions, such as compulsive overeating and gambling. To be in recovery begins by stopping the addictive behavior.
             Just for today, don't pick up or use.
            This means Twelve Step meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and so on. At first, hit as many meetings as you can. The old rule is ninety meetings in ninety days. Those who regularly attend these meetings get and stay clean. They also learn to become fully functioning human beings. That's what we call "recovery."
            No meetings in your area? Start one. Get in touch with the world services (See the Learn More links on the right side of this page), find the "Start a meeting" link, and get ready to commit to a couple of years of work keeping the meeting going. Invite speakers from established meetings, leave your meeting information with doctors, hospitals, treatment centers, mental health hospitals, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, jails, prisons, courts, and law enforcement units. Recovering addicts need other recovering addicts. That's how it works, why it works, and why the meetings are so important.
            Time passes, you've heard it all before, and the meetings get boring? Make sure to keep going to the meetings. Why? (1) You are never cured or recovered from addiction. (2) And your disease will try to get you to stop doing the things that keep you in recovery, like going to meetings. (3) There is probably someone at that meeting who is in need of just the kind of help your own recovery can provide if shared.
            Just for today, find a meeting and give it a try.
            "What do I do to get clean and stay clean?" That's one way to ask for help.
            "Will you be my sponsor?" is another.
            "Can anyone help me deal with . . . [Fill in the horror of the moment]." Family problems, financial problems, legal problems, homelessness, unemployment, jail time to serve, resentments, Higher Power problems—whatever. There is someone at the meeting, your sponsor, perhaps another program member you call on the phone who can tell you what they did in similar circumstances.
            Just for today, reach out and ask for the help you need.
Don't pick up, go to meetings, and ask for help. It is a very simple program for very complicated people—and it works.
            Common Era (Christian) New Year is making its way around the globe as I'm writing this. For many in the world, 2015 was a hardship or horror. As always, the next year is looked upon with hope and promise. Some things we can count on: The days in 2016 will be 24 hours long, the disease of addiction will not go away, and recovering addicts who work their programs will still be clean this time next year.
            Take care and be good to yourself. A happy, clean, and sane New Year for everyone willing to work for it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Thirty-four years ago today at this time I was driving the mysterious Regina and myself to the Portland Jetport. I was popping a few pills along the way and only dozed off four or five times. We said a strained goodbye at the airport, she drove home, and I boarded a plane for Minneapolis, Saint Mary's Rehab, and the beginnings of a whole new life.

Had to change planes in Chicago which meant half-running from one end of the airport to another, and one concourse took me right ...through a huge circular bar. Didn't stop to get a drink, though. I didn't have an alcohol problem, see. I was merely misunderstood. I finally got to my gate, took a handful of pills, passed out, woke up in a taxi in a strange looking city not quite remembering why I was in a taxi or that city, took another pill, woke up screaming at a rehab nurse, then watched as she patted me down, took away my pill caddy, then went through my luggage and confiscated the other pills and medications therein.

"Anything you need will be prescribed for you," the nurse said. I was to find out over the course of the next few horrible days that Saint Mary's definition of the word "need" was considerably different than my own.

That pill I took in the taxi was my last use of mood altering drugs. It seemed like one hell of a price then and for quite a few weeks thereafter. I spent part of the night alone in my room staring out the window at a street light and one of the worst snowstorms to hit Minneapolis that year. I remember very clearly thinking that I was jammed right into the middle of the worst moment of my life, and if there was ever a time that I could possibly change to make this not to have happened, this was it. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Shows what I knew.